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How To Throw a Football

Developing a Non-Tebow Technique


DENVER - AUGUST 29: Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Denver Broncos drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers during preseason NFL action at INVESCO Field at Mile High on August 29, 2010 in Denver, Colorado
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Much attention has been given to the throwing style of Tim Tebow, former quarterback for the Florida Gators. His style has earned him much criticism, and has launched him into his own national campaign for fundamental change (which has started to work). He’s currently going back to the basics of when he learned to throw and “re-learn.” So, what’s wrong with his style, and if you’re an aspiring quarterback, what is the best way to throw a football?

The main issue with Tebow’s style has to do with his windup, which is(was) reminiscent of a sidearm baseball gunslinger. Before he changed it up, he would drop the ball below his shoulder pads, and sometimes below his waist as part of his windup and release of the football. This is bad. How and why Tim Tebow got to that point is another story, but how can you avoid it as a young football player?

Get a Natural Grip on the Ball

A lot has been made of hand positioning with relation to the laces on the football.  The reality is that you need to do what is most comfortable and natural for your hands and throwing style. Some guys like their thumb on the end of the lace area, some guys use a specific finger-to-lace configuration, and some don’t throw with laces at all. The best way to find what’s comfortable for you is to toss it up to yourself and grab it where your hands naturally land. Do this over and over until you gravitate towards the natural grip that fits for you. Once you find that grip, keep it.  Consistency over time is an important factor to being a great quarterback, and one of the reasons people have doubts about Tim Tebow’s ability to change. The key here is to be able to take a snap and release the ball as quickly and accurately as possible, and that all starts with your hand positioning. 

Develop a Good Throwing Stance

A good throw starts with a good stance, and good footwork. Your feet should be a little more than shoulder width apart, and if you're right-handed, your left foot will be forward (opposite for lefties). Before, during, and after your throw, you should utilize the 80/20 rule. Before you throw, you want 80 percent of your weight on the back leg, and 20 percent on the front leg. As you transition the throw, you will gradually move so that 80 percent is on your front leg at release, and 20 percent on your back leg. You never want to be 100 percent on either leg, because then you’re off balance, which will affect timing and accuracy, as well as your ability to scramble if needed.

Listen to the Ball

The proper place to start your throw is with the ball over your shoulder, level with your ear. Just pretend there’s an iPod speaker in the side of the ball, and you’re trying to listen to your favorite song. Keeping the ball up high in this position helps you to develop a quick release and you will learn to release the ball higher, in order to avoid defensive linemen knockdowns.

Throw With Both Hands

A great thrower uses both arms to get good release and velocity on the ball. Before the throw, you should keep both hands on the ball, to keep it secure. As you get ready to throw, you’ll swing your front arm (non-throwing arm) down and turn your hips and stomach into the throw, while stepping in the intended direction. As you release the ball, the thumb of your throwing arm should point down towards the ground to finish the throw. 

Following these four steps will allow you to develop a beneficial throwing style that will help you at any level of football. 

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